The Absurdity of the Christie “Occupied Territories” Scandal
What does it say about the role of Israel in U.S. politics that a prospective presidential candidate cannot refer to Israeli-controlled Palestinian land as occupied territory?
Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday, March 29, in Las Vegas, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie correctly alluded to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. This, however, did not play well with his Zionist audience. According to the Washington Post, Christie “drew murmurs from some in the audience when he referred to a helicopter ride he took over the ‘occupied territories.’”
More importantly, Christie’s remarks unsettled Zionist billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who spent the weekend vetting the governor and other prospective 2016 Republican presidential candidates. After his remarks, Christie reportedly apologized to Adelson and worked to quickly diffuse the “controversy” by clarifying his statement. According to Politico, Christie “conveyed that he is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement.”
Misstatement? Those who follow the Israel-Palestine conflict closely—or even from a distance—know that Israel is indeed occupying Palestinian land. This is an indisputable fact. One only needs to consult a dictionary for confirmation. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory; Cairo is the capital of Egypt; gravity exists; Israel is occupying Palestine. These are facts no one—save fanatical Zionists and the American political establishment—would question.
And question it they did. Former Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday that Christie’s remark is “the sort of thing that shows he’s not on top of his game like you need to be when you’re a presidential candidate.” Instead of pointing out the absurdity of Burton’s statement, Crowley validated his point, saying, “They’re [presidential candidates] all going to make really stupid mistakes, which that was one.” Just like that, the self-described “most trusted name in news” assured viewers that there is no Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Which begs the question, if there is no occupation, what is the status of Palestine? If Christie were to suggest it is a country, Adelson, his fellow Zionists and CNN would have likely bombarded him with criticism. Indeed, in 2011, the U.S. demonstrated its objection to Palestinian statehood by cutting off funding to UNESCO because the agency recognized Palestine as a member state.
Ardent Zionists would argue that Palestine is neither occupied nor a state, but “disputed territories.” Such a description, of course, is absurd. Palestinians living within the “disputed territories” are subject to Israeli military law, have their movements restricted, limitations placed on what foods and materials they can import and have their lands confiscated by the Israeli government. This is no mere docile historic “dispute.” This is the subjugation and occupation of a people and their lands.
This examination of the reality in Palestine reveals the irony of the Christie “mini-scandal.” The presidential hopeful was not spewing anti-Israel rhetoric; he was actually being quite docile. Imagine if Christie had (more accurately) referred to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine or accused the country of practicing apartheid? Such remarks would have created a political controversy a hundred times more damaging than his ongoing “bridgegate” scandal.
This weekend’s embarrassing spectacle is, of course, unsurprising. While the international community is actively searching for ways to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the American media and lawmakers are unwilling to acknowledge that an occupation even exists. The mere suggestion that Israel is doing something even remotely wrong receives bipartisan ridicule and scorn. With such shocking bias oozing out of this country, one should not be surprised that the U.S.-led “peace process” has failed time and time again.
For those advocating for a more reasoned U.S. approach toward Israel, the reaction to Christie’s remarks is a reminder that there is still much work to be done. While polls and other data and anecdotes suggest that the American people are beginning to slowly see the light on this important issue, ignorance still prevails from coast to coast.
Those of us in the know must tell the news media and our elected officials that they can no longer hide the facts of Israeli’s occupation of Palestine. That’s right: occupation.